U.S., North Korea hold talks to repatriate service member remains

The U.S. and North Korea held talks on Sunday to discuss the return of more than 5,000 remains of U.S. service members still missing from the Korean War.

The discussions, which took place in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, follow a commitment made by the North during the June 12 summit in Singapore to recover the remains of U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action and immediately repatriate the remains of those that have already been identified.

It was the first time in nine years that U.S. and North Korean first general-officers held talks. U.S. and North Korean officials agreed to resume joint field activities to search for the remains of Americans missing from the war, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"Today's talks were productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments," Pompeo said in a statement. However, no specific date was given for the transfer of those remains recovered. Talks at the working level will continue on Monday.

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In late June, the U.S. military said it had begun moving caskets to the Korean border village of Panmunjom in preparation for North Korea to return the remains of U.S. soldiers who went missing in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Between 1996 and 2005, joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains.

But efforts to recover and return other remains stalled for more than a decade because of the North's nuclear weapons development, which led the U.S. to claim that it could not guarantee the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Earlier this month, Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang where he met with vice chairman and former intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol and the two agreed the U.S. and North Korea would meet on or around July 12.

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North Korea official meets Trump in rare visit
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean Kim Yong Chol (L) outside the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington,DC after a meeting, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo(C) looks on. - North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's right-hand man met with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday to deliver a letter from his leader that could pave the way to a historic nuclear summit. Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling party executive and a veteran regime insider, arrived for his Oval Office encounter accompanied by the senior US officials who have overseen an extraordinary diplomatic opening. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean Kim Yong Chol (L) outside the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington,DC after a meeting, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo(C) looks on. - North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's right-hand man met with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday to deliver a letter from his leader that could pave the way to a historic nuclear summit. Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling party executive and a veteran regime insider, arrived for his Oval Office encounter accompanied by the senior US officials who have overseen an extraordinary diplomatic opening. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump looks at North Korean Kim Yong Chol (L) outside the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington,DC after a meeting, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo(C) looks on. - North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's right-hand man met with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday to deliver a letter from his leader that could pave the way to a historic nuclear summit. Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling party executive and a veteran regime insider, arrived for his Oval Office encounter accompanied by the senior US officials who have overseen an extraordinary diplomatic opening. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks with North Korean Kim Yong Chol (L) outside the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington,DC after a meeting, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo(R) looks on. - North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's right-hand man met with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday to deliver a letter from his leader that could pave the way to a historic nuclear summit. Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling party executive and a veteran regime insider, arrived for his Oval Office encounter accompanied by the senior US officials who have overseen an extraordinary diplomatic opening. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Worker's Party Central Committee, left, and John Kelly, White House chief of staff, walk through the Colonnade of the White House toward the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, June 1, 2018. A top envoy from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived at the White House today to meet with President Donald Trump, the first visit by a key official from the isolated country to Washington in at least 18 years. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: US President Donald Trump (2-R) walks with Kim Yong Chol (2-L), former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) looks on outside the Oval Office of the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Both Trump and Kim Yong Chol are trying to salvage a recently canceled historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: US President Donald Trump (3-L) stands next to Kim Yong Chol (2-L) , former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) looks on outside the Oval Office of the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Both Trump and Kim Yong Chol are trying to salvage a recently canceled historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: US President Donald Trump speaks with Kim Yong Chol (L), former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on outside the Oval Office of the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Both Trump and Kim Yong Chol are trying to salvage a recently canceled historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean Kim Yong Chol (L) on the South Lawn of the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC, after a meeting, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) looks on. - US President Donald Trump said Friday his summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is back on for next month, after extraordinary Oval Office talks with a top envoy from Pyongyang. Trump emerged after a more than hour-long Oval Office meeting with Kim Yong Chol -- a general facing US sanctions who is Kim's right-hand man -- saying that the summit will go ahead in Singapore on June 12 as originally planned. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: US President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Both Trump and Kim Yong Chol are trying to salvage a recently canceled historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: US President Donald Trump stands with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, on the South Lawn of the White House on June 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Both Trump and Kim Yong Chol are trying to salvage a recently canceled historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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Pompeo has described the commitment to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers as "the most personally meaningful part of the agreement," between the U.S. and North Korea at the mid-June Singapore summit.

Trump repeatedly boasted of the "incredible success" of his meeting with Kim Jong Un but, as of now, no remains have been returned as a result of the meeting.

At a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on June 20, Trump told the crowd that the remains of over 200 had already been sent back, and the following day the President remarked during a cabinet meeting.

"They've already sent back or are sending back remains of our great heroes," said Trump. "That's already in process."

Trump repeated the claim on June 23. Military officials later walked back the statement stating that no remains had been repatriated since the summit.

More than 36,500 U.S. troops died in the Korean War, according to military data.

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